McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Health minister strengthens bone health research

Published: July 19, 2012
Sharon Kaasalainen
From left: Joy MacDermid, a professor and assistant dean of McMaster's School of Rehabilitation Science; Leona Aglukkaq, Federal Minister of Health; and patient Sue Baptiste, who had a prolonged recovery following a hand fracture.

Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq came to McMaster University campus to announce three national awards for research that will improve Canadians' bone health, including an award of $2.5 million for investigations by a McMaster University rehabilitation science professor.

Joy MacDermid, a professor and assistant dean of McMaster's School of Rehabilitation Science, along with researchers at the University of Toronto and Simon Fraser University, received a total of $7 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

"Our government is committed to helping Canadians lead healthy, active lifestyles," Aglukkaq said. "I am pleased that we are supporting research to help people maintain strong bones, providing the foundation for healthy lives."

MacDermid's research team will examine the extent to which a bone must be displaced before it requires surgery, conduct studies on how to best screen for fracture risks and how to use these screening methods in everyday practice.

Broken wrists are quite a common injury, MacDermid said, adding that it's a mistake not to take the injury seriously as several people end up with chronic pain or arthritis. People with wrist fractures are also at higher risk for future broken bones, such as shoulder or hip fractures.

"We do not want to use costly investigations or treatment when they are not needed; nor do we want to miss potential problems like chronic pain, arthritis or osteoporosis that is best managed in the early stages, when treatment is easiest and most effective."

Broken bones may produce fear in some people, limiting their physical and social activity, MacDermid said. However, physical activity is very important for overall bone health.

MacDermid's team will work directly with orthopedic surgeons, physiotherapists and occupational therapists and their professional associations to share knowledge about best management of wrist fractures. The team will also work with Osteoporosis Canada and share the knowledge with clinicians and patients.

The other projects are Michael Glogauer's work, at the University of Toronto, seeking new ways to identify bone loss in gum disease and Robert Young's work, at Simon Fraser University, investigating new drugs to promote bone regeneration.

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